Poor MySQL has received some negative feedback over the years 1 2. As entertaining as it is watching and listening to developers struggle and whine, I think it's about time we changed some of the defaults and made the config easier to understand.
Oracle are working on changing more defaults in 5.7 3 4 5, I think we should too.
Something else they have done, is to radically change the simplicity of the default server config file, /etc/my.cnf:
It's quite clear there, the sql_mode has been set, which will satisfy most developers and users looking for an ACID compliant database with little tweaking, and a rough note on increasing or decreasing RAM needed for InnoDB. MariaDB now probably needs something similar for Galera, CONNET and TokuDB.
Proposed new defaults: